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[329a] For it often happens that some of us elders of about the same age come together and verify1 the old saw of like to like. At these reunions most of us make lament, longing for the lost joys of youth and recalling to mind the pleasures of wine, women, and feasts, and other things thereto appertaining, and they repine in the belief that the greatest things have been taken from them and that then they lived well and now it is no life at all.2 And some of them [329b] complain of the indignities that friends and kinsmen put upon old age and thereto recite a doleful litany3 of all the miseries for which they blame old age. But in my opinion, Socrates, they do not put the blame on the real cause.4 For if it were the cause I too should have had the same experience so far as old age is concerned, and so would all others who have come to this time of life. But in fact I have ere now met with others who do not feel in this way, and in particular I remember hearing Sophocles the poet greeted by a fellow who asked, [329c] 'How about your service of Aphrodite, Sophocles—is your natural force still unabated?' And he replied, 'Hush, man, most gladly have I escaped this thing you talk of, as if I had run away from a raging and savage beast of a master.'5 I thought it a good answer then and now I think so still more. For in very truth there comes to old age a great tranquillity in such matters and a blessed release. When the fierce tensions6 of the passions and desires relax, then is the word of Sophocles approved, [329d] and we are rid of many and mad7 masters. But indeed in respect of these complaints and in the matter of our relations with kinsmen and friends there is just one cause, Socrates—not old age, but the character of the man. For if men are temperate and cheerful8 even old age is only moderately burdensome. But if the reverse, old age, Socrates, and youth are hard for such dispositions.”

And I was filled with admiration9 for the man by these words, and desirous of hearing more I tried to draw him out and said, “I fancy, [329e] Cephalus, that most people, when they hear you talk in this way, are not convinced but think that you bear old age lightly not because of your character but because of your wealth. ‘For the rich,’ they say, ‘have many consolations.’”10“You are right,” he said. “They don't accept my view and there is something in their objection, though not so much as they suppose. But the retort of Themistocles comes in pat here, who, when a man from the little island of Seriphus11 grew abusive and told him that he owed his fame not to himself

1 Lit. “preserving.” For the reverse Cf. Symposium 174 B. Cicero renders, “similes cum similibus veteri proverbio facile congregantur.” The proverb is ἧλιξ ἥλικα τέρπειPhaedrus 240 C, or, as in Lysis 214 A, Protagoras 337 D, Symposium 195 B, the reference may be to Homer's ὡς αἰεὶ τὸν ὁμοῖον ἄγει θεὸς ὡς τὸν ὁμοῖον, Odyssey xvii. 218. Milton, Doctrine and Discipline of Divorce, x., “The ancient proverb in Homer . . . entitles this work of leading each like person to his like, peculiarly to God, himself.”

2 The sentiment of the sensualist from Mimnermus to Byron; cf. also Simonides fr. 71, Sophocles Antigone 1165, Antiphanes, in Stobaeus 63. 12. For the application to old age Cf. Anth. Pal. ix. 127, Horace Epistles ii. 2. 55, and the ψόγος γήρως in Stobaeus, 116.

3 For such a litany cf. Sophocles O.C. 1235.

4 This suggests Aristotle's fallacy of the false cause, Soph. El. 167 b 21. Cf. Philebus 28 A and Isocrates xv. 230.

5 Allusions to the passage are frequent. Theon, Progymn. ii. 66 (Spengel), turns to the anecdote in an edifying χρεία. Ammianus Marcellinus xxv. 4. 2 tells us that the chastity of the emperor Julian drew its inspiration hence. Schopenhauer often dwelt on the thought, cf. Cicero Cato M. 14, Plutarch, De cupid. divit. 5, An seni p. 788, Athen. xii. p. 510, Philostr.Vit. Apoll. 1. 13.

6 Cf. Phaedo 86 C, Philebus 47 A, Laws 645 B, 644 Eσπῶσι.

7 Cf. Euripides I.A. 547μαινομένων οἴστρων.

8 For Sophocles as εὔκολος cf. Aristophanes Frogs 82, and on this quality, Laws 791 C.

9 Cephalus prefigures the old age of the righteous, 612-613. There is then no parody of Antisthenes as Joel fancies.

10 Cf. Teles. (Hense, pp.9-10), Philemon in Plutarch p. 358, Musonius, Stobaeus 117. 8. A fragment of Anaxandrides in Stobaeus Florileg. 68. 1 is almost a paraphrase of this passage. Thucydides ii. 44 says that honour, not money, is the consolation of old age.

11 Lit. “the” Seriphean of the anecdote, which, however, Herodotus (viii. 125) tells of another. Cicero Cato M. 8 “Seriphio cuidam.”

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